Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Alternative ending; Deleted scenes;
Outtakes; Audio commentary with The Rock; Featurette on the stunts.
THE Rock continues his one-man mission to become the next Arnold
Schwarzenegger by headlining this old-fashioned revenge thriller,
which, though enjoyable in places, ultimately fails to do justice
to the true story behind it.
The former WWF sensation stars as Chris Vaughn, a former Special
Forces soldier, who returns to his home-town to find it now under
the control of wealthy high-school rival, Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough),
a ruthless businessman, whose casino has replaced a formerly profitable
sawmill, and who pedals drugs to the town’s kids.
Vaughn, however, is unable to sit back and accept the changes,
and, after a particularly painful run-in with some of Hamilton’s
heavies, vows to get even, running for town sheriff and cleaning
up the unwanted element with the assistance of long-time friend
and former felon, Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville).
So far, so routine, you may think, which is exactly how things
stay. Walking Tall does exactly what it says on the label, which
only serves to make its disappointment all the more greater.
It’s not a bad film, by any stretch, and at 86 minutes,
doesn’t outstay its welcome. But given the history behind
it, and The Rock’s charismatic turn in the recent action
romp, Welcome To The Jungle,
this would appear to be something of a backward step in the former
wrestler’s career progression.
Walking Tall has already been turned
into a film, starring Joe Don Baker, in 1973, when it grittily
depicted the efforts of real-life sheriff, Buford Pusser, to clean
up the crime in his small, rural Southern town, in America’s
That film spawned two sequels and was widely considered to have
done justice to the legend of Sheriff Pusser, who fought crime
at a heavy personal cost (his wife was ambushed and murdered and
he, himself, required 16 facial operations as a result of the
same ambush), before dying in a car crash at the age of just 36.
The Rock’s remake, while similarly gritty and harking back
to a Seventies style of raw authenticity (particularly during
its fight scenes), ultimately suffers from being a little too
by-the-numbers for its own good.
Too much of its content seems to have come from the type of revenge
flicks that helped to make Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone and
Arnie famous, thereby squandering the potential for The Rock to
demonstrate any great acting ability, and falling some way short
of its expectations.
The paper-thin characterisation doesn’t help. Knoxville
is pure comedy value, and does far better than his screen-time
warrants, but McDonagh is a particularly bland central villain,
while Ashley Scott, as Vaughn’s love-interest, exists purely
to get her top off and add some needless titillation.
The fight scenes are well orchestrated and necessarily tough,
but even they conclude far too quickly - almost as though the
director couldn’t wait to shout ‘cut’.
Fans of movies such as Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse and Seagal’s
Marked For Death may find some guilty pleasures in its content,
while it does possess the feel of a diverting Saturday night no-brainer,
but, for many, this will represent a huge waste of potential -
both for The Rock and the movie itself.